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How do I know if I'm having a heart attack?

from the experts at East Jefferson Hospital [Web Exclusive Content]

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Symptoms of a heart attack vary, but some of the most common include the following:

• Pain, pressure or a feeling of fullness in the chest that persists for longer than a few minutes, recurs or worsens. Symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for heartburn.

• Pain in the arms, left shoulder, back or jaw

• Nausea, dizziness or lightheadedness

• Cold sweats

• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

As opposed to a sudden, gripping pain, oftentimes the symptoms of a heart attack come on slowly and many patients don't recognize the warning signs. Women, in particular, are vulnerable to heart attack because they are more likely to experience symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, jaw pain and shortness of breath, which may be mistaken for other illnesses.

If you experience these symptoms, it is vital that you call 9-1-1 immediately. Every second can count toward saving your life and preventing permanent damage to your heart and other organs. Not only can EMS make a preliminary diagnosis as soon as the ambulance arrives, but they can prepare the Emergency Department and catherization lab unit of your arrival, expediting your treatment.

For information contact The Department of Cardiology at 504.454.5533 at East Jefferson General Hospital, or go to www.ejgh.org.

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